This webinar aims to discuss how this transition will take shape and to what extent a more sustainable urban tourism model will entail not only diversifying city centres’ economies and retail sectors, but also the housing market, the cultural offer and city life as a whole.
European cities attract millions of visitors each year, with numbers particularly rising since the year 2000. The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly emptied them of tourists as travel restrictions and abrupt lockdowns were imposed across Europe. The fall in visitor arrivals was unprecedented: London (-9.8 million), Rome (-5.6 million), Paris (-5.4 million), Istanbul (-5.3 million), Barcelona (-4.9 million), Amsterdam (-4.3 million), Prague (-3.8 million) and Dublin (-3.8 million). This downturn has particularly affected city centres, whose services and retail sectors are highly dependent on the tourist industry, due to their high density of restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops and tourist attractions.
In response, city governments have adopted a range of measures to revitalise these urban areas. An ongoing study by CIDOB’s Global Cities Programme in seven European cities (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Ghent, Florence, Nantes, Ljubljana and Prague) has observed that the first reaction of local authorities was the adoption of short-term policies to reactivate the economic and tourism sectors. In particular, several measures were adopted to rescue micro, small and medium-sized businesses in city centres. However, the research has also identified a growing interest among cities in intervening in other policy areas, such as governance and participation, digital innovation, culture and housing, as a way to drive a sustainable recovery of urban tourism. In this regard, the study, which remains in progress, is observing that the COVID-19 crisis is accelerating the transition towards a more sustainable urban tourism model.
Against this backdrop, this webinar aims to discuss how this transition will take shape and to what extent a more sustainable urban tourism model will entail not only diversifying city centres’ economies and retail sectors, but also the housing market (long- and short-term rentals), the cultural offer (tourist attractions and a quality cultural offer that also appeal to locals) and city life as a whole (day-to-day services and facilities, e.g. libraries, kindergartens, parks). The event is organised by CIDOB’s Global Cities Programme, in collaboration with Barcelona City Council and Eurocities. It will bring together elected city officials, practitioners and scholars for a discussion that will take place over two days. The first day will be devoted to analysing the impact of COVID-19 on urban tourism and reflecting on possible ways forward, while the second will explore ongoing policy responses and future municipal strategies to move towards a sustainable recovery.
Agustí Fernández de Losada, Director, Global Cities Programme, CIDOB
Eva Garcia-Chueca, Senior Research Fellow, Global Cities Programme, CIDOB
Francesc Teodoro, Research Assistant, Global Cities Programme, CIDOB
Debate facilitated by: Eva Garcia-Chueca, Senior Research Fellow, Global Cities Programme, CIDOB
How has COVID-19 crisis impacted urban tourism in city centres?
Which measures have been undertaken in European cities to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in city centres?
Which goal did these measures pursue?
Mireia López, Researcher and Associate Professor, Pompeu Fabra University (co-author of the study conducted by CIDOB)